Health & Well-Being

Beginning

E. Pijogge on emerging from a difficult life path and finding strength in herself

One thing they don't tell you as a young woman growing up in a small town, with a generally trustworthy network, is of the dangers that lurk around. After my sister went missing, a man rushed to my side to help and I fell in love. The sex was fabulous, the fights were intense and the sex after the fights was intense.

He had a type though... vulnerable. That became clear when I was strong enough to care for myself, get a job and take on projects. He did everything to break me down. “You're worthless, you think you're doing good but you're not, you're nothing but a slut," he’d say.

I'm finally moving past that, almost a year since I left him with nothing but the clothes on my back.

That doesn't mean there aren't still predators trying to take advantage of me. Just yesterday, I saw my grief counsellor and he was giving me cash and being overly touchy. I'm in a very bad financial state but tried to give the cash back. After he insisted, I obviously took it. I don't know where my next meal is coming from and am living in a place on good faith that I'll pay rent soon.

Who do you turn to during these times? Who can you trust when a Victim Services appointed counsellor is acting in an unprofessional way such as this?

Another thing they don't tell you as a young Indigenous woman is how hard it can be to protect yourself from these scary situations. Sometimes out of necessity, you need to do dangerous things to avoid living on the streets, or you end up with someone you think you can trust but who turns out to be just as dangerous.

I still don't know how to navigate these waters but I'm glad I can see an issue with the way we are generally treated as women.

I'm also glad I'm strong enough to take on projects, look for work and do my best to care for myself. Yet, I'm scared how long it's going to last. It's a process and I'm just beginning.

To those who have gone down the same path as me and essentially every woman who has been impacted by intergenerational patriarchy: it's a start. Our women are becoming more aware, much stronger and outspoken. You aren't worthless. You hold more power than you give yourself credit for.

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